Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This lead abatement issue has me thinking even more about decorating the house. Even if we can get one of the abatement loans, this will still be costly so making it nice again will have to take some time, working on it on an as and when we can afford it basis. That said, there is so much I want to do, from simple painting to more complex construction.

On the simple end, there is a triangular bit of wall under the stairs that cries out for something, but I don't think framed art will do. Solution: chalkboard paint! I see no reason to discourage my child from drawing on walls, but this will keep that impulse a bit controlled and still be fun for all of us. Spouse and I could even use the upper portions for notes to each other.

Now of course we wanted to repaint the rooms as well but I think I'd like to add a little bit extra. I think picture rails along the walls, perhaps with a different paint color (or preferably wallpaper) above the rails would look lovely. It's a Victorian look, much like this amazing Brooklyn brownstone, but by using a paint on the lower portion, and a lighter colored wood we can update it and make it our own.

On the construction front, we still have pantry shelves that need building. The style will be like these Williams Sonoma shelves, but Spouse wants to do them in maple or oak. They will be fitted into our small pantry space. Right now we have two book cases in there and there is just not enough shelf space for the food let alone small appliances that don't get used every day such as the food processor or the rice cooker.

Still in the kitchen, our cabinets are far too low. Right now we just slide the dish drainer under them but then the cabinets block off access to half of the rack! We also need counter space and have even had the stove moved (along with the gas pipe moved) slightly so give space for a counter with drawer and cabinet under it next to the stove, plus space for the same on either side of the sink.

Just thinking about the work involved with the kitchen alone (I may try to convince Spouse to hire someone) make my latest idea of a mantle with hat hooks and shoe shelves by the entry way seem easy! Realistically though I know I just need to concentrate on getting the lead out, but dreaming of a shiny new living space is the one thing keeping me from pulling my hair out over everything we're going through now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

That phrase sums up our home owning experience right now. We bought a house with little work other than some cosmetic things to be done and now find ourselves facing a very large bill with lots of hassle and work on our part, not to mention the health issues already there.

Lead. The house is full of it.

Most houses of this age still have lead paint in them. This is pretty much a given here in Boston, and might not have been a problem here had we really been aware of it (no we have no statements from the previous owners on the lead issue) and had been able to make sure we were dusting and mopping daily and making sure every crack was covered. But we weren't and we didn't and now Sprog has high lead levels, the cat surely must (he will be the next to be checked and treated) and the city has inspected and given us an order to delead.

Most of the lead seems to be doors, walls and trim, which means paint removal. That's considered high-risk (although removing lead coated windows is somehow a lower risk) which means we have to hire someone to do it. Oh and we have to pack up all our stuff we've just unpacked and move out. Thinking about it makes me want to cry. Again.

I could go into the other issues such as the electrics need sorting, the dampness in the basement, even the simple need for more counter space in the kitchen, but that all has to take a back seat to the lead issue since the clock is ticking on that. Oh, didn't I mention the city gives you deadlines to get this done? Yeah, fun. Not included in the time is what is needed to really understand the report. They do give you time to get financing, but oddly they expect you to do that before getting a contractor. Personally I'd like to know how much it will cost before I mortgage my soul (all I have to bargain with since they house doesn't have the equity) to pay for it.

Now I know why the previous owners took our offer even though it was $29k less than they were asking. Jerks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TomAto, TomAHto

First tomato
Photo by Spouse
One of our tomato plants in the upsidedown planter has fruit! There was another one that did but I accidentally pulled that one off. But this baby has two, count 'em, TWO tomatoes on this Defiant vine. There are also two green ones on the Pol Big, one sweet green pepper and one Anaheim hot pepper!

My herbs are struggling but four have managed to cling on. I should be getting some mature chive plants before the month is out as well.  Don't ask about the onions (we shall mourn them.)

All in all, it's pretty good for a couple who haven't done this sort of thing in ages. I had decided to not get my hopes up this year so having anything makes me happy. We still haven't cleared out the raised beds yet, but I think that will happen as we prepare for autumn.

Friday, July 06, 2012

New house

painting in the shed
I've been out in the shed painting a bookcase. I wish I could say "bookcases" but it has taken me ages to get one out there and with the rain it's been too humid to do more than one coat in a session. But one of the fun thing about painting in our shed has been using the unfinished walls to clean brushes and otherwise do things we could never do in our rental apartment.

I'll post pictures of bookcase #1 when it is done, but the gist is white outside, the pink inside the hear in the photo inside and on the shelves and the darker red on the inside back. Two bookcases will be like this in the dining room and I'll use that color palate for the two cabinets and the table and chairs in there too. I think the walls need to be painted something different but that works with those colors.

I don't feel I can do much in the house until we at least have a couple bookcases ready. Two bookcases are doing temporary duty as pantry shelves right now until we build proper ones. That hasn't excused everything (I've got one case ready to go in Sprog's changing room) but there really is still a great deal to do here, from structural (electrics) to cosmetic (I hate all the downstairs paint colors) before I can feel settled in.